arnabocean

— by Arnab Gupta

☞ Christopher Hitchens is dead

December 16, 2011

After fighting cancer for a while, Christopher Hitchens is no more. I’ve only read (and heard) a tiny fraction of his writings (and talks), but was fascinated even in that small exposure to him. A fiery and uninhibited speaker and writer, what struck me most were his clarity of thought and lucidity of expression, and how his ideas seemed to flow, languidly almost, from thesis to conclusion.

Another terrible loss for humankind this year. Rest in Peace, sir.

(Cross-posted at GlobeTrekker)

☞ The rat that’s ‘immune’ to acid

December 16, 2011

This is a very interesting article about why the naked mole rat can’t feel pain from acid burns. Apparently it was already known that they don’t feel the pain; their hypothesis about why it happened—that the acid sensing ion channels that tell neurons to transmit pain would be missing—was not true.

‘Forks over Knives’

November 16, 2011

I recently found this very interesting documentary, called ‘Forks over Knives’, that deals with the idea that much of our modern health problems can be solved by changing our diets. This in itself is, of course, not a revolutionary idea—most of us are quite aware of what we need to do to stay healthy. (That we don’t actually do it is another matter entirely!)

What piqued my interest (and great dismay) was some of the views in the documentary—were some of the ideas that I currently have so wrong? And the theses were from respected doctors, who seemed to have done quite a bit of research, and extensive research at that, in coming up with their ideas!

Trying to be too clean

October 18, 2011

Being conscious of our hygiene is a good thing, of course. But is it possible to overdo our hygiene routines for our own good? Have you noticed how more and more people use sanitizing hand wipes, or antibacterial hand soaps? Their function, of course, is to ‘wipe out’ all the bacteria around you—but is that always a good thing?

I’ve always had my theories, but now there’s actual evidence—it’s probably not a very good thing on the long run.

The Mystery of the Abydos flying machines in ancient Egypt

October 10, 2011

I had not heard of the Abydos carvings before. But then we went to Egypt, and it turned out that my Dad had requested that Abydos be put on the schedule—even though it wasn’t a ‘usual’ tourist destination. (I still don’t know whether he’d come across these specific carvings as a reason to go there. Baba, will you leave a comment if you read this? :))

But the carvings were quite amazing. There they were—a few of them adjacent to each other, each apparently depicting something we’d recognize as a modern (or future) means of air travel. (I have my own photos, but it’s easier to link to photos online.)

☞ Steve Jobs is dead.

October 05, 2011

Steve Jobs passed away today. 😔

I’ve only seen him as a public figure, of course, but I was, and will remain, a fan. I’ve admired him greatly, not just for the company he built, but for how he conducted his business—well, for the things he said and did publicly, at any rate.

A straightforward, honest man who played extremely hard when running his company, but who made sure he did the right thing all the same.

For an inkling to his way of thinking, see his Stanford commencement speech, and the interview he gave at the D8 conference.

Rest in Peace, Sir. Your legacy will live on, and will hopefully inspire the next generation of visionaries.

Cross-posted at GLobeTrekker

‘Ph.D. Candidate’?

September 25, 2011

So, I’ve defended my Ph.D. Preliminary Exam (phew), and what lies ahead are the defense of my thesis proposal, and the final Ph.D. Dissertation Defense, of course.

Does this mean I can now call myself a ‘Ph.D. Candidate’, as opposed to a Ph.D. student? Is there a difference in connotation? I’m not really sure about the protocols involved.

If you happen to know the norms (or lack of them), leave a comment, will you?

☞ When Galaxies collide…

August 11, 2011

A composite image created by combining data from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory and the Hubble Space telescope, this is a stunning image of two galaxies colliding. Both of them are spiral galaxies, and they are on the verge of a collision—with their disks oriented at 90 degrees to each other!

Well, “on the verge” is in galactic time scales, which means they’ll collide in a few million years. And considering that this is 450 million lightyears away from us, the event has already occurred—we just haven’t seen it yet.

A detailed description of the image is present as a caption with the photo itself. Go see it!